The heightened interest in the “truth of Islam” should not be a surprise with anniversary of the 9/11 attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists, the threats of Qur’an burning and of course the ongoing battle about whether or not a Mosque should be allowed near the ground zero site. That it is part of the conversation does not bother me. What bothers me are the presentations created for the sole purpose of stirring people up; a common technique used to motivate groups of people to action by touching sensitive triggers… especially fearful ones.
Between Facebook and the inevitable email forwards, I notice a definite trend towards more presentations of the “truth” about Islam. These presentations are full of facts and often well produced. The slick way they present the information is a hook to the reader/watcher/listener. The web presentation I saw last night really drew me in. It was compelling because of the way it “painted” words on the screen as they were spoken. Very nicely done… and the information seemed accurate. I have not read the Qur’an, so I cannot actually speak to its accuracy, but I was pleased that they encouraged people to read it for themselves for confirmation.
What I have read is Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson, which I highly recommend. Mortenson has humbly served the people of Afghanistan for many years now. He builds schools for them so they can learn. Why? Because it turns out most of them are illiterate. Illiterate people in a country that is overrun with fear and extremism. It turns out, these Islamic Fundamentalists who hate us so much do not hate us because of the Qur’an tells them to hate us, they hate us because they are taught to hate us by people who were taught to hate us by people who were taught to hate us by… They cannot read the Qur’an and neither can their radical Islamic “teachers”! What the Qur’an literally says is irrelevant when the people we are discussing cannot read it.
Back to the web presentation… one of it’s main points was how radical Muslims are more aligned with the words of the Qur’an than moderate Islam. As if we should discount the moderate voices and let the extremists be the true representatives. In most any religion, the radicals are the ones quoting chapter and verse to support their teachings? Fundamentalist fringe groups are always so stuck on “being right” that they
As a Christian, I personally do not want to be defined by any of the Christian fringe groups. In fact, as a person, the only way I want to be defined is that I am myself. If someone wants to know what I believe, they should ask me. Don’t put me in a box with someone else that calls themself a Christian. There are many “Christian boxes” and so far as I can tell, I don’t fit in any of them perfectly. (Note to self… practice what you preach).
Let’s characterize the greater Islamic community, not by what their ancient writings say, but by the way they translate it into actions. How do we do that? Observe. Ask. Listen. The vast majority of Muslims are peaceable people. Most of them reject the violence of the radicals. To lump them all together with the radical factions is to invite them to lump people like me in with the likes of Fred Phelps (no link provided… look him up if you are interested). It is not a fair representation. As Emerson might have said (or not) What you do speaks so loud that I cannot hear what you your sacred text says.
Lastly, I abhor the use of fear as a motivator in any context. I especially despise it with religion. The present move to frighten people about Islam is gaining momentum and it will backfire. Stirring up hatred is not a Christian concept. Did not Jesus say to “love your enemies”? What would he do?